Late-ish Breaking News – Historic Cadillac Chris – Craft Plant Burns To The Gound!

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 6.53.18 AMSad news from Cadillac Michigan  The plant that built most of the Chris Craft boats after the war smaller than 24’ until they moved to Florida, burnt to the ground yesterday.  It is a total loss. Long time fellow Woody Boater  Russ Arrand reports in…..”I have been in the building a couple of times over the years. It had a clear span area on the second floor where the boats were built.

Cadillac plant

The milling machines and lumber storage were on the first floor.  After the boats were built on the second floor they were moved over to the finish area.  After finish they were lowered down to the first floor where the mechanicals were installed.  The first floor had a post about every 12 feet making it difficult to move boats around.” Russ owns Cadillac Boat Shop and does very nice work.

Thats all we have right now from Russ, Over the next few days we will have more pictures and history. If you have any shots and stories, please bone up on your math and comment. Remember pictures need to be under 1 mg in size.

22 replies
  1. Alex
    Alex says:

    “The Old Mitchell-Bentley building destroyed by fire has been around since the 1920’s and has a rich history.

    The building on Wright Street in Cadillac caught fire Sunday night and is considered a total loss.

    The Wexford County Historical Society says the Cadillac Handling Company was the first on the site in 1894, constructing wood products like broom handles.

    Then around 1922, the Mitchell Brothers built a new flooring plant on the site. That is the same building that burned to the ground on Sunday.

    By 1941, Chris-Craft Corporation moved in, which made boats.

    Then in 1971, the building changed hands again, this time the Mitchell-Bentley Company, who made auto trim and other related products.

    The building has been vacant since 1989.”

  2. Troy
    Troy says:

    As I mentioned on the CCABC forum, I think what is even sadder is the number of boats that came out of that plant that have been burned by their owners in bon fires over the years.

    Yorktown came out of Cadillac 2/22/57.

  3. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    My 1957 20 ft. Continental was shipped out of Cadillac on Oct. 24,1956. Michigan has lost another piece of wooden boat history. Very sad!

  4. Rick
    Rick says:

    Weird that it happened during the traditional Halloween Boat Burning week. If its been vacant since 1989 it sounds like it was just ripe for this to happen. Arson? Insurance claim?

  5. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    What sad news and loss of history. I still have the original receipt from my dad’s 1953 17′ Special Sportsman that came from that factory.

  6. Chad
    Chad says:

    So many great boats left that factory. Sad to see it go up in flames. My Sportsman shipped May 23, 1952.

  7. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Both my U-22’s were built there. Had a 25′ Sportsman that was started there then shipped to Algonac to be finished.
    They say it was suspicious due to no utilities being turned on.

    • Ken Miller
      Ken Miller says:

      Our Sportsman, U-22-1705 was two hulls ahead of Jim’s U-22-1707. I always wondered if they were on the line together. I wonder if it would be possible to get bricks from the old factory???

  8. Capt. Mark
    Capt. Mark says:

    Boats turned into bonfires, now the factory. Disappointing to the entire wood boat society.
    The 1960 19′ Capri that my wife & I own, shipped from there on July 27, 1960. Does that mean our boat is now an orphan, since it has lost its mother?

  9. 'Bone Daddy' Deems
    'Bone Daddy' Deems says:

    O Yes…so sad, another piece of history lost to the ages…as the song goes…”Time marches on”. My 1954 20′ Riviera was shipped from there to Catalina Island, Ca. then to Lake Mead, Nv, then back to Los Angeles, then up to Coeur d Alene, Id. And no my head didn’t get crushed, maybe my friends in the back hoped so…he, he Bone Daddy

    • Rick
      Rick says:

      Photo Caption:

      “When we lifted the boat an assortment of vermin came scampering out along with an old salt who had been living under it for many years without our knowledge.”

  10. Christopher Fract
    Christopher Fract says:

    Chris-Craft commented on the story on Facebook with the following: “The factory mentioned in this story was an old building that has not been in use for many years. Though we are saddened by the loss of this historic momento of Chris-Craft’s beginnings, we would like to reassure everyone that our boats are safe and sound at our current facilities. For the latest updates on all things Chris-Craft, “Like” the official Chris-Craft Facebook page here:

    Looks like the building has been abandoned for many years. Cool that they care so much about the people that love their boats. Also glad all the boats are ok!

  11. pete
    pete says:

    Very Sad!!
    Two of my boats came out of the Cadillac plant my 1948 and my 1957. Another piece of history lost

  12. richard kanipe
    richard kanipe says:

    I spent my child hood growing up 100 yards from the front door. We lived across the RR tracks ROM the CC plant. Not only did we live there my father Forrest Kanipe worked there from 1947 to 1968, he was in charge of QA. His father helped build the plant. I also worked there in 1966. I remember many times dad would run out the door across the tracks because there was a fire or false alarm. Sometimes it was tow that was used to wipe stain from the hulls. It is a loss to our family and to all those who loved CC boats, and nobody love them more than Forrest O. Kanipe

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